“Your daughter is dead. Why do you trouble the Teacher any further? (Mark 6:35).”
I came upon this verse recently and those words stood out to me. “Why do you trouble the Teacher any further?” The “teacher,” of course, is Jesus. Why do I continue to bother Jesus with my requests? This is a fair question. Why do I do that? Why do you do that? More importantly, DO we do that?
This verse is just a tiny bit of a story found in the book of Mark. Jesus is at the height of his ministry and his reputation is known far and wide as a miraculous healer. At this particular time, the father of a very sick twelve year old little girl approached him and begged him to come to his house and heal his child.
While Jesus is making the journey to the man’s house, he actually performs at least one recorded miracle along the way. It is at this break in his journey that the father is approached by someone from his house, a discouraged someone, who informs the Dad that his journey is useless. His child is already dead. We are met with his despair; all hope is lost. Why bother?
Sometimes life feels just like this. Things appear hopeless. A relationship is severed. The debt is high and the money is gone. The diagnosis is clear, there is no treatment.
If we’re fortunate, we have been on a journey with Jesus. Jesus IS a miracle worker. People across the countryside had followed him, witnessed his miracles and journeyed alongside him. For those who had followed him and stayed close to his side, they had less reason to doubt. He had removed demons, cured illnesses, restored bodies, and even controlled the weather. If we had been walking alongside him witnessing his power, we might have never questioned his ability to heal this little girl. After all, it is what He does. But for this man, he had only a reputation to lean on. He had not had the privilege of experiencing Jesus day in and day out for himself.
Recently, one of our young children had a seizure with no history of seizures. It was a significant seizure that lasted a considerable amount of time. At his discharge from the hospital, it was made clear that we needed a particular medicine to give him should a seizure happen, so we could stop it. We were hopeful that we could care for him outside of the hospital, only to learn that the medicine we needed could not be delivered until the next day. This meant we would either need to be readmitted to the hospital (not equipped for pediatric neurology) or simply live in the parking lot in case we needed emergency care until we could bring the medicine home with us.
We began calling all of the nearby pharmacies searching for the meds. Finally, we found it an hour away in a neighboring city. Although it would mean leaving the safety of the hospital grounds, my husband decided he would drive towards the pharmacy and pursue the medicine. Shortly after he left, I got a call from a neurologist that we had been in touch with. The call was simple. “If you will drive here, you will be met at the hospital. Your child can be admitted, we can begin testing and you will be able to see the neurologist.” My husband was enroute to that very city, headed to pharmacy only blocks away from those hospital doors. I could hear the tremble in my husband’s voice when I told him that he was headed to exactly where he needed to be.
Why do I keep “troubling the Lord?” It is in these moments of walking with the Lord that I am reminded of why I keep bringing my requests to God. This is one of many stories in my life, not to mention the testimonies of my community, where God has provided. I am on a journey with him and he works in our lives time and time again.
Jesus’ response to this man who has given up hope is simple. “Do not fear, only believe (Mark 5:36).”
Fear creates barriers that will prevent us from seeing God’s hand at work. So many times, Jesus speaks against fear in what feels like times of crisis. Your boat is rocking in a storm, don’t be afraid (Mark 4:37-40). Mind blowing, angelic beings have just appeared before you, don’t be afraid (Luke 2:10). Going in to actual battle with a fierce enemy, don’t be afraid (Joshua 10:5).
The moment when our fear is greatest is often the moment just before the Lord does great things. He doesn’t just say, “take courage,” he calms the storm, or announces something wonderful and miraculous, or shows up and defeats the enemy. When I bring the Lord my biggest fear and my hardest problem, I get witness him do great things!
In the fearful time, when things seem hopeless, God asks us to believe. He doesn’t promise we will get what we want but He also asks us to be persistent in our faith.
“I sought the Lord, and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears (Psalm 34:4).”
Somehow our faith, our fears and our willingness to seek the Lord are all connected. We need faith to seek the Lord despite our hopeless circumstances, and in seeking the Lord we are offered peace and provision from the Lord in a way that calms our fears.
Most importantly, walking with Jesus day to day makes all the difference. It is in the continued encounters with God that will create a story… a history… a journey, that will continue to build our faith. When we bring our requests before the Lord it won’t feel like something we do in vain, but rather something done with anticipation; we will remember the faithfulness of God and of course we will go to him because he has done it before and he will do it again.